Kenya Kwanza government has initiated a plan to boost local production of cooking oil by designating 200,000 acres for sunflower cultivation this season, to reduce imports by 50 percent by July next year.

In a bid to curtail imports and mitigate the soaring cost of living, the government intends to facilitate the establishment of cottage industries across each county, devoted to the processing of cooking oil at the local level.

Presidential Advisor on Food Security, Dominic Menjo, unveiled the broad plans, disclosing that efforts are already in motion to place 200,000 acres under sunflower cultivation commencing in the current rain season with an additional two million acres in October.

The government, eyeing an annual production target of 40 million liters of cooking oil valued at Ksh8 billion, anticipates a substantial return of Ksh10 billion to farmers.

“Government will support MSMEs to establish cottage industries specifically in access to affordable finance for procuring oil presses and packaging material,” said Dr Menjo.

Stressing the impact of the project, Dr Menjo highlighted how these oil presses would empower farmers to not only produce oil for personal use but also engage in commercial sales within their communities, thus augmenting their income streams.

In the long run, the State plans to put 100,000 acres of land under palm oil by 2027 and already 50,000 acres has been identified in Homabay and Siaya Counties. At least 2.5 million seed are being developed at Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Organisation Alupe centre. Another 120,000 acres will be put under the cover of Canola.

The Ministry, through the Agriculture and Food Authority, formulated The Edible Oil Crops Promotion Project (EOCPP) whose overall objective is to promote the production of edible oil crops in various counties.

Under the Agriculture and Food Authority umbrella, the government has instituted the Edible Oil Crops Promotion Project (EOCPP), aimed at catalysing the production of edible oil crops across various counties.

Ken Lusaka, Chair of the Agriculture Committee at the Council of Governors, lauded the initiative, affirming the readiness of devolved units to actively participate in cultivating these oil crops to enhance farmer livelihoods and bolster cooking oil availability.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi, underscored the government’s commitment to addressing the country’s reliance on oil imports.

With Kenya’s annual consumption of edible oil estimated at 900,000 tonnes, against a meager domestic production of 80,000 tonnes, Mr Linturi stressed the importance of boosting local production to bridge the glaring deficit of 820,000 tonnes currently met through imports.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org